A retired British couple | EFE

The new population figures were released this week which showed a massive increase in the number of British residents. There are now 18,000 British residents across the islands, an increase of 2,000. There is a simple reason for the rise; the Spanish and British government had told expats to get legal before the Brexit deadline otherwise they could be politely asked to leave. And it has worked.

The message was received loud and clear. But why did such a large number of expats not have their paperwork in order in the first place? When Britain was a member of the European Union it was a quick and easy system to become a resident but still many thought twice or even three times!

It also meant that they were missing out on many advantages from the vote in local elections to discounted travel between the islands and the mainland. In expat circles there is an old adage which says never raise your head above the parapet; keep your head down because you never know what the tax authorities are doing, is another sentence I have heard many times.

But when push came to shove all these old sayings went out the window. You had no option but to get legal, otherwise it could have been adios amigos. For years now the official figures have shown a decline in the number of expat Brits. What we all knew is that the official figures were one thing and the unofficial figures were another.

15,000 registered 30,000 living here. Now, it is a question of 18,000 registered and 18,000 living here. I suspect that there are a few people still keeping their heads down but many others have become part of the headcount.